Dry county, high winds lead to fire concerns

By Adam Strunk

Despite record rainfall totals through most of the year, Harvey County is now facing fire dangers, due, in part, to a lack of precipitation as well as high winds.

The National Weather Service put out a warning Tuesday that Harvey County had an elevated fire risk with winds blowing between 15 and 35 miles per hour.

This prompted the Harvey County Government to put out a statement noting that responders had seen a few grass fires in the last few days.

Enjoy the warmer weather the next few days, but be smart about outdoor burning and things like discarding cigarette butts,” the statement read. “Help your first responders out.”

According to climate data from the U.S. Drought Monitor, Harvey County is abnormally dry for this time of year.
National Weather Service data shows the area received between 2.61 and 2.88 fewer inches of rain since September.

It’s definitely slowed down,” Chris Jakub, National Weather Service Meteorologist said of precipitation. He noted that fall and winter present one of the drier timeframes in Kansas.

The dry weather, combined with low humidity and sustained wind speeds to create an environment where fires could spread fast.

A grass fire earlier this month burned between 300-400 acres of land near Burrton.
Fire risks should diminish temporarily as the week continues.

We actually do have a decent weather system coming across during the day Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday evening,” Jakub said adding that an expected .25 inches of rain should momentarily help with conditions.

Winds are expected to be less through the week as well.

Following rain chances Wednesday, Thursday is expected to be clear weather. Rain chances return Friday, and sunny weather with highs in the mid to low 50s is expected through Monday.